Would you believe that to order furnishings for two complete rooms, I have scheduled into my diary about 3 working days? THREE. And I still think it might need a tad more.
The reality is that most people have no idea how long it takes to order furnishings, not even our custom clients, since we do everything behind the scenes. If you think that a few clicks of a button are all it takes, guess again.
The best way I can describe it is like a swan — all beauty and grace up top, legs kicking furiously underwater.
Why is that? What do you need to do? Let’s talk about it.
Quick Recap: Plan Your Design Year Series
January: View month-by-month design plan
February: Declutter your spaces (and get our guide to decluttering with conviction!)
March: Define your project’s scope and strategy
April: Create your design concept
May: How to create a room layout
June: How to select furniture and get quotes
What You Need to Know about Ordering Furnishings
1. What’s involved
My largest project, to date, had about 205 line items. It was a whole home, but many of these items had subcomponents that required experience, a check-and-balance system, and project management (overseeing the ordering, processing, manufacturing, shipping, receiving, and installation).
Procurement at that level would be hard to do for a designer that isn’t regularly supplying goods, let alone trying to do it yourself. Chances are that your list of furnishings is much shorter, but maybe not.
My Advice: Make sure you have the time to oversee every aspect of your furnishings from initial purchase to installation. Make a chart or spreadsheet and use the steps I suggest below to keep everything on track.
Curtaining, don’t get me started. So much goes on to create even a single custom window treatment. People ask me where I get our curtains from, but that question doesn’t make sense because, again, it’s not just a simple matter of ordering.
I am the linchpin between the track guy, the sewing workroom, the fabric supplier, and the installer, and sometimes even the electrician for motorised curtains and blinds. Not to mention being the steamer (if linen) and making sure we are all talking the same language.
How to Track Your Furnishings from Purchase to Installation
1. Double-Check Your Purchases
The most important part of making purchases is ensuring that your specifications are 100% accurate. For example,
- Have I allowed enough fabric for the pattern match in the curtain quote?
- What colour legs will be on that armchair and is it on the order form?
- Are the dimensions of the custom wall unit accurate on the order form?
- Did you specify which way the fabric needs to run, which side of the fabric is out, etc.?
Etc. Every little detail needs to be on there or you will end up with surprises later… and they usually aren’t good ones.
2. Follow Up with Suppliers
I know it seems tedious, but following up with suppliers is a must in this industry. You’ll want to make sure your suppliers got the order and check that they are sending the thing you ordered. For example, sending this fabric to the sofa work room and that fabric to the cushion work room.
To help, you could create a fabric worksheet so that all the suppliers can recognise and match up their fabric when it arrives to them. Same with other types of furnishings. Check in early and often.
3. Coordinate Deliveries & Installation
Coordinating deliveries will take some as well. For me, that’s a whole other job towards the end of the project. I have to make sure suppliers are paid so that they release our goods.
I also use one carrier for all the furniture, so I can organise multiple pickups with them. Then we can coordinate a single install day for small jobs. (Better than having several installations that require you to pause your life to oversee.) Larger jobs might need staggered installation days, which get scheduled.
For you, I suggest:
- Trying to use one carrier for all purchases
- Track deliveries to see which are behind schedule
- Try coordinating deliveries on the same day
You might not be able to get it exactly right the first time, but if you’re planning to design several rooms in your home, it will certainly be easier the second time around. Practise always helps!
So that it comes together like this!
If, by now, you are thinking that you’d much rather have us manage your project for you, our Custom Full Service Decorating is available to you. We open up slots twice per year, with our next opening coming up in November (mark your calendars!).
If you’re feeling confident and excited to manage your own project instead, then I hope these tips guide you well along the way.
Be sure to scoop up our Guide to Creating Furniture Layouts if you haven’t yet, and then go design a forever home that brings you pride, sophistication, and beautiful living at last!